Victims reassured Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry won't be axed after cash threat 'nightmare'
Abuse victims have been told that money has been found to keep the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry running after they angrily accused Stormont of using the issue as a political football.
Margaret McGuckin and a delegation from Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse (Savia) met with politicians yesterday over threats the inquiry could be suspended because politicians cannot agree to budget cuts.
The abuse campaigners met with Sinn Fein at Stormont before a meeting was arranged with First Minister Peter Robinson.
The meeting came after Mr Robinson warned that the inquiry's work could be suspended if the Executive failed to agree on budget adjustments, as the abuse inquiry was one area which required funds from the June monitoring round.
He had accused Sinn Fein of "foot-dragging" over the latest financial monitoring round.
Last night campaigners were given assurances the inquiry was not in jeopardy. Ms McGuckin said: "We have been reassured that the money is there for the inquiry and not to be worrying."
UUP leader Mike Nesbitt had threatened to pull his party out of Government unless the £4m for the abuse probe was safeguarded.
Details of yesterday's deal between the parties is expected to be revealed today.
Ms McGuckin said she had been inundated with messages from victims concerned about the future of the inquiry following Mr Robinson's comments.
"We let the politicians know we are very, very angry," she said. "We are living through this nightmare. It was very unkind, untimely, it was uncalled for, it was inhumane and very, very abusive."
Mr Nesbitt said the row over funding for the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry was part of ongoing problems between the DUP and Sinn Fein over welfare reform.
"Could you imagine the public outcry if the coalition Government in London had said: 'I tell you what, we don't have enough money to keep the (Jimmy) Savile inquiry going so we will wrap it up, even though we know or suspect at least the scale of the abuse that man got into'," he said.
"Equally, we know or suspect the scale of the abuse that took place in all these institutions and we are putting the victims in the middle of a political row between the DUP and Sinn Fein. It is just wrong."
Following a meeting with Savia, SF junior minister Jennifer McCann said: "Despite claims to the contrary by the DUP's Sammy Wilson, funding can be made available immediately for the Historical Abuse Inquiry.
"Sinn Fein is supporting the victims' call for the funding needed by the inquiry to continue its investigation into the abuse of children in homes to be ring-fenced."
The inquiry, led by Sir Anthony Hart, has a remit to investigate physical, emotional and sexual childhood abuse, and childhood neglect which occurred in residential institutions in Northern Ireland over a 73-year period up to 1995. It is currently examining the abuse suffered by children at the Kincora Boys' Home but calls have been made for it be part of the current UK-wide abuse inquiry.
Case Study: Clint Massey
Clint Massey (56), from Bangor, was abused at Kincora Boys’ Home in east Belfast. Many victims want the home to be included in the UK-wide abuse inquiry.
Clint said: “They say there is money there and the money will remain there.
“It took everything I had to contact the inquiry team and I have made my statements. The day I went there was the hardest thing I have ever done, to sit down with them people and tell them my story. I am very fragile at the moment and I don’t want to end up in hospital again. I am continuing to suffer mental health problems and self-harming and all that.
“I don’t want to go down that road, but when I hear someone say — of all the things they could have picked out — that the money for the inquiry could be cut, I wonder why did he (Peter Robinson) go for the most vulnerable, a very fragile group of people?
“He picked the wrong people, because we have a voice. I hold my head up now.”
Case Study: Gary Hoy
Gary Hoy (52), from Belfast, was abused at Kincora Boys’ Home. Three senior care staff from the home in east Belfast were jailed in 1981 for abusing 11 boys, but allegations have persisted that a paedophile ring was linked to the intelligence services.
Gary said: “Listen to the news and hear what is being said about MI5 sitting back and actually letting these people go into Kincora, take the children out, and then do what they did.
“I want everyone involved in abuse at Kincora brought to justice; that is what I want.
“I am 52 now. I have been carrying this for over 40 years. I have had so many meetings with politicians.
“I was told by Sir Anthony Hart (the abuse inquiry chariman) at a meeting we would be supplied with counsellors, but six months on I am still waiting. I have suffered two heart attacks in the last two years as a result of all the stress of this.”